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Friday, March 22, 2019

Divrei Torah

Is It Beneath You, or Are You Just Above It?

Aharon and his children were given the tremendous responsibility of the service of the Temple. As much as this service represented the epitome of being involved in holy activities, interestingly however, the first task that Aharon and his children are instructed to perform is the mitzvah of terumat hadeshen—the removal of the

Letter Writing in Megillat Esther

As the miracle of Purim develops, letters play an important role in the unfolding drama. All told, five letters are composed and dispatched. The first two letters frame the odious plot; the first letter which establishes men as masters of the home, and the second letter which decrees the extermination of the Jews. As the tide

The Best Investment

As we delight in the warmer weather that is finally arriving, we’re also feeling a lot of pressure this time of year. Pressure on our pocketbook! It’s registration time for all the yeshivos. It’s time to pay hefty deposits for our girls going away to seminary in Eretz Yisrael. It’s only a month away from the pricey holiday

Purim: The King’s Restless Sleep

A famous joke is told about two elderly Jews, one a pessimist and the other an optimist. The difference between the two was that the pessimist would always say, “It can’t get any worse than this,” to which the optimist would reply, “Oh, yes it can!”

Let’s go back in time to Persia,

A New Transcription: Surrendering to the Almighty

Editor’s note: Torahweb.org has just completed this new transcription as part of a forthcoming book. The full shiur, made in 1975 to Rabbinic alumni, is available on YU Torah here: https://tinyurl.com/y5ylmmax. This text is excerpted only in the interest of space, omitting

Our Complex Relationship With Money

I was saddened and ashamed last week to read a news story about an observant Jew who was incarcerated for crimes of bribery, fraud and money laundering. I was further pained by the knowledge that we are no longer surprised by this; though, perhaps the fact that it was a former chief rabbi of Israel should give us more pause for reflection.

‘Fess Up’

This week’s parsha discusses a variety of individuals who unfortunately sin and must bring a korban chatat or asham. Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky notes that in describing the incidence of sin, the Torah describes it as a potential circumstance, expressing it in a term of hopeful uncertainty: “If an individual person from among

Fusing Body and Soul

Parshat Vayikra lists the various sacrifices or korbanot and their respective procedures. Korbanot punctuate important and potentially transformative lifecycle moments: moments of elation and gratitude (korban todah), moments of religious equanimity (shelamim), moments of religious swell (olah) and, of course, moments of historical

A Lesson in Values

Rav Elchonon Wasserman visited a wealthy supporter of his yeshiva, and since his shoes were muddy from the road, he knocked on the side door where workers entered instead of at the grand front entrance. When the wealthy man heard Rav Wasserman had entered through the side, he was aghast! “You are ruining my daughters by entering

Pekudei: A for F-ert

After all the work was put into constructing all the parts toward the assemblage of the Mishkan, the Bnei Yisrael had a serious problem: Rashi, based on the Midrash, writes that the parts were all there and ready to go, but no one was able to actually put all the things together for the final product. The planks were just too heavy

Pekudei: Finding Our Life’s Mission

Michael Rothschild owned a small business and was running the Chofetz Chaim Foundation on the side for six years. He came to feel it required his full-time dedication, but that would mean dropping his business. He went to Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky for guidance and, to his surprise, Rabbi Kamenetsky advised him to become full-time

Vayakhel: Human Creativity and Religion

The epic project of constructing a Mishkan was an unprecedented feat of human engineering and creativity. Instead of delivering a ready-made, heavenly prepared structure, God chose to empower humans to this task. Human participation provided catharsis for the tragic human failure of the Egel disaster. The great surge of human